Why You Should Avoid Potholes on the Road

The months of December- April are considered pothole season. Potholes are formed in the pavement due to the expansion (freezing) and contraction (thawing) of ground water from rain and snow, and from heavy traffic.

While potholes usually only develop to a depth of a few inches, if they become large enough, they can cause damage to your car’s tires, wheels, suspension, and undercarriage.

How Potholes Affect Your Car

Tires and wheels Potholes typically have rough edges which can compress the tire. The impact could cause tread separation of the tires or even a flat. Running over a deep pothole can scratch the rims or bend and crack the wheels.

Suspension Repeated jolts from potholes accelerate the rate of wear and tear on your steering and suspension system. Your car’s suspension is made to absorb impact but sometimes an unruly pothole can cause damage. Misalignment, broken ball joints, or damaged shocks are all possible outcomes. Look out for any strange noises, vibrations, or pulling in one direction while driving.

Undercarriage Smaller cars are lower to the ground which makes damage to the low-hanging bumpers and sidings more likely. While this damage is mostly cosmetic, it can be a costly repair.

Exhaust pipes Your exhaust pipes are one of the lowest-hanging parts of your car. This makes them a perfect target for potholes. Damage to the exhaust system includes scraping or puncturing of the pipes. You’ll know right away if the exhaust system is damaged from a lot of noise and possibly loss of power. Concerns about the exhaust system should be addressed as soon as possible.

How to Avoid Potholes

Sometimes running over a pothole is unavoidable- they can come up quickly and are sometimes impossible to maneuver around due to surrounding traffic. Swerving or braking quickly can do more harm by causing a collision with other cars on the road.

Your best bet is to slow down while driving and if you must go over a pothole- keep your wheel straight. If there is no surrounding traffic, carefully check your mirrors and maneuver around it.

Avoid flat tires or bent wheels by making sure your tires are properly inflated. Check your vehicle’s proper inflation level on the sticker found in the driver-side doorjamb or owner’s manual. If you notice any loud noises, uneven rolling, or a bulge or dent in your tires, get your vehicle inspected immediately at a local Car-X Tire & Auto.

Driving in Hazardous Weather

Preparation, practice, staying calm and caution are the keys to staying safe in hazardous driving conditions. Conditions such as snow, heavy rain, or even thick fog often relate to an increase in traffic incidents/crashes. Don’t let this make you think that a little bit of snow or rain doesn’t also call for precautions when driving. Vehicles leave oils and exhaust that can accumulate on roads and a small amount of precipitation can lead to slick and slippery road conditions. Though, there may be times where you cannot protect yourself from every danger on the road you can do your part to minimalize the risk.

Driving in Fog

Fog is more common in the colder months and reduces visibility and gives an incorrect perception of your current driving speed. If you feel at any point that you are unsafe to drive or if visibility is so poor, make the choice to pull over on the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If the weather conditions are bad stay in your car and wait for the fog to dissipate. It is not easy to say how long that will take but it is always best to take the safe route when in dangerous weather while driving.

If you must drive in the fog, here are some tips for you:

  • Use your low beam headlights, whether it is day or night. High beams will reflect light back at you in fog, making it even more difficult to see. Use fog lights if your vehicle has them.
  • Make sure your windshield is clear and use your wipers and defrosters as needed to increase your visibility.
  • Always signal well in advance for turns and brake early when approaching a stop to help others see your vehicle.
  • Keep your windows and lights clean to improve visibility.

Driving on Slick/Slippery Roads

Rain is at times not the only cause for slippery roads, any time water gets on the road it can be dangerous to drive. When the weather is dry the oil from our vehicles builds up on the roads and then when it mixes with fresh rain the road conditions can turn hazardous. Large amounts of rain fall, especially when coupled with freezing cold, also leads to slippery conditions.

Tips for driving on slippery roads:

  • Slow down – there is less friction causing reduced traction. When you completely lose traction that is when hydroplaning can happen, sending your car out of control.
  • Increase space between other cars – with less traction you will need more room to brake.
  • Turn on headlights – increase your car’s visibility to other cars.
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Drive in the tracks of the cars in front of you – the path the car in front of you is leaving less water on that part of the road.
  • Check your tires – The tread on your tire helps channel water out the way and helps provide traction. If your tire tread is low, you increase the risk of losing control of your vehicle.

For the colder months the same applies to snow and ice. During winter weather conditions it is important to regularly check your car tires for low tire pressure and tread depth, along with your battery. Extreme cold often leads to a dead battery and that is the last thing you want when out in winter weather. Also, remember to make sure your gas tank always has at least a half tank full during the winter.

Providing Essential Services During the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 has caused a global health crisis. In these uncertain times we must keep in mind that we all have a job to do. For some that job is to stay home or self-isolate and for others that job is to provide an essential service. The Department of Homeland Security has deemed Car-X to be a part of the essential services. We are here to ensure that you have a safe means of transportation. While providing that service, our priority is to make sure that you and our employees stay safe during your visit. Safety protocols have been put in place at all of our locations to do so. We are taking this matter very seriously and ask you to do the same.

It is important for us all to educate ourselves and stay updated on COVID-19. Make sure you are properly washing your hands, sanitizing your store-bought goods, and following other safety protocols. Being overly vigilant is the tactic to take if we want to stop the spread of this virus.

If you find yourself in need of automotive maintenance/repair please call or find us online at https://www.carx.com/request-an-appointment/. We are here to help. Stay safe, stay healthy!

For more information on COVID-19 please go to http://cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Are Your Tires Ready For Winter?

With the winter season upon us, it is inevitable we will soon be dealing with colder temperatures, snow, and ice. Properly maintained tires are vital to the safety of your vehicle during the winter months. Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road. Because of this, there are a few precautions you should take before the weather becomes unfavorable.

• All four of your tires should be the same type, size, tread pattern, speed rating, and load index. Differences in these factors can negatively affect a vehicle’s handling and stability.
• Proper inflation and pressure are imperative. Having inadequate tire pressure can cause unnecessary wear, as well as impact your vehicle’s fuel consumption. Keep in mind that as the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your tires. Make it a priority to check your tires’ pressure every few weeks in the winter.
• Have your tires checked for proper alignment and tread. This is something that should be done on a regular basis, but is most crucial to have done in preparation for winter.
• Make sure your tires are in good shape, or get new ones. Tires that are worn, cracked, or out of balance can seriously hinder your ability to drive and control your car. The majority of winter accidents are caused by loss of control of the vehicle on snowy or icy roads.
• Should you decide to get new tires, winter or snow tires are the best bet for those living in regions that have particularly cold and snowy winter months. Snow tires can provide up to 20% better snow traction than all-season tires. With snow tires, you receive the benefits of shorter braking distances as well as more predictable and controllable turning.
• If you choose not to purchase winter/snow tires, be sure to check the tread on your current tires. The next time you do purchase tires, check for deep grooves on the edges of the tires. These types of grooves move both snow and water outwards from underneath your tire, creating better handling and traction year-round.

“Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” – Sounds Your Car Is Making and What to Do About Them

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Most of us have experienced a curious sound coming from our vehicle. It is always a little nerve-racking, as some sounds can be indicators of serious problems, while others have simple fixes. Responding appropriately to the sounds your car makes can prevent problems from worsening, thus saving you a significant amount of money. The following explains what each sound means and what you can do to get rid of it.

The first part of diagnosing a noise-related problem is to determine where it is originating. Then establish when the noise occurs and how your car behaves when the noise starts.  Find a Car-X near you to listen to what your vehicle needs.

Backfire loud bang– This can be caused by an uneven air-fuel mixture or incorrect engine timing (slipped timing belt).

Chirping or squealing while accelerating– Loose, slipping belts are typically the cause of such a sound.

Clicking or tapping in your engine– The most common reason for this sound is low oil. If your oil level is good, there could be a loss of oil pressure.

Flapping– This may be a belt that is decaying or something is interfering with one of the fans.

Hissing or sizzling under the hood– If you hear this right when the engine is turned off, something is probably leaking. Any fluid that leaks under the hood hisses or sizzles when it touches the hot equipment around it.

Humming or whirring under your car– This type of sound is difficult to pinpoint because of the echoes and reverberations of the parts underneath your vehicle. A mechanic will have to diagnose it.

Knocking in your engine– This can be caused by using an incorrect fuel or oil grade. Always be sure to follow the correct oil, gasoline, and tire air pressure guidelines in your owner’s manual.

Noise from the front end while steering– May indicate bearing failure or steering linkage wear.

Popping in your engine– Potential problems include a clogged fuel filter or ignition or spark plug problems, especially if the engine misfires with the pop.

Rattling from under your car– This can be caused by loose parts such as your exhaust system.

Squealing wheels while braking– Causes range from small, such as dirt on the brake pads or rotors, to serious, such as worn pads. Brake noises are safety issues and require immediate attention.

Scraping or grinding while braking– If the squealing has gotten worse and now sounds like a scraping sound, this means your brake pads are completely worn down or close to it. This causes damage each time you apply the brakes.

Thumping on hard acceleration– May be felt through the steering wheel or floor & can be caused by broken engine or transmission mounts.

Whining– This sound usually indicates excessive transmission wear.

Each of the sounds outlined above may indicate serious problems. By identifying the what, when, and where of the sound(s), you can have the right conversation with your mechanic and prevent a small problem from growing larger and more expensive.

Does anyone else remember the old “Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” commercials? Visit your local Car-X man today.

Winterize your vehicle

If the weather turns frightful is your vehicle ready for winter driving? Stay safe & keep your vehicle in good working order this winter with the following tips:

Battery Test Check Mark Battery test-If the battery is not checked, there is a chance the particularly cold nights will be too much, making the battery unable to power on the next day.

Antifreeze Check Mark Antifreeze-Another serious issue that often comes up in the winter is lack of enough coolant, which can cause the engine to freeze and possibly crack, causing detrimental harm.

Charging Systems Check Mark Charging system check-Your charging system needs to be tested to ensure it can handle running multiple items such as your defrosters, headlights, and heater at once.

Belt and Hoses Check Mark Belt & hose inspection-Cracked or worn belts are a big reason why cars break down. Similarly, hoses need to be inspected for leaks, bulging, etc. These should be checked annually before the winter months, so there is no chance of getting stranded out in the cold unnecessarily.

Brake Check Mark Brake check-Having brakes in good condition is imperative for slippery winter roads. Having your brakes and ABS system checked each year ensures you will be able to come to a stop easily should you happen to slide.

Oil Change Check Mark Oil change-Important year-round, having your oil changed for the winter months is a step you should not forget. Be sure to refer to your car’s owner manual, as some car manufacturers suggest using a different grade of oil for colder temperatures.

Wiper Blade Check Mark New wiper blades-It is necessary to have windshield wiper blades in good condition for when you get caught driving in the snow. There are even a variety of specialty wiper blades made specifically for snowy weather.

Tire Check Mark Tire maintenance-It is of utmost importance to make sure your tire pressure is at a good level. Tires should be inspected, as well as rotated if you have not done so recently.

Other helpful tips:

  • Run your air conditioning roughly once per month. This will help decrease the time it takes your windows to defog.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. The added weight helps in slippery conditions, and it also helps prevent moisture from forming.
  • Do not forget to keep a snow brush/ice scraper in your car.

Car-X provides a wide array of winterization products and services. Find a location near you, and let us take the worry out of winter driving.

Air Conditioning: What’s that smell?

Have you been experiencing a mildew like odor when your air conditioning is on? We promise this more than likely is coming from your air conditioning, and not yourself or your passengers. That smell often is deriving from a growth of bacteria in the air conditioning system. Frequently, this occurs in older vehicles or a vehicle that gets seldom use. The bacteria build up can also come from excess moisture, caused by the air conditioning regularly being on the maximum setting.

Don’t worry this is can be fixed. Replacing your air filter will help take care of this issue. Your air filter collects dust, dirt and water and is a perfect place for bacteria to live. Best practice is to replace your air filter every 12,000 – 15,000 miles. If replacing your air filter does not eradicate the odor, your air conditioning evaporator may require a good cleaning as well.

Your local Car-X is here to help, so call or go online to schedule an appointment at https://www.carx.com/request-an-appointment/ and we’ll investigate that pesky smell for you.

How to know your wipers need to be replaced

Most of us pay little attention to our wipers, until we need them the most. The rain is coming down fast and thick and you can’t see 5ft in front of you. You turn on your wipers and you can barely see out better than you could before. Your heart begins to race as you guess how far in front of you that car is and where the road lines are, and that is when accidents happen. Before this occurs, take a look at your wipers from time to time and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they torn, cracked or even broken off in some places?
  • Are your wipers causing streaks or leaving grime after using wiper fluid?
  • Do you hear a chattering sound when using your wipers?
  • Are the wiper frames distorted/bend?

If you answer yes to any of those questions, you need new wiper blades. It is good practice to get ahead of these problems and change your wipers when the seasons change. This is not a costly maintenance, so make the choice to remain safe on the roads and get some new wiper blades. We at Car-X are more than happy to help you replace them if you don’t know how to do it. Call, or go online to www.carx.com to make an appointment today.

Time for Spring Car Cleaning!

spring car cleaningSpring is officially here, and with the season comes time for some Spring Cleaning. Spring Cleaning is not only something for the household or office but your car too. Now that we are all spending more time in our vehicles again, having a clean car can help with a clear and calm head.  Here are some tips to help you with your Spring Car Cleaning:

Inspect your interior
• Take out any unnecessary items. Get rid of that unwanted trash (old receipts, take out bags, empty water bottles).
• Clean the plastic surfaces with a mild spray and cloth and vacuum the remaining surfaces. (For leather surfaces, use a leather cleaner). If you don’t have a vacuum many car washes and gas stations have self service vacuums you can use, some are even free!

Exterior Wash
• It is important to give your vehicle a good hand wash a couple of times a year. Make sure that your car is not in direct sunlight when washing. Use soap specifically for cars, and a hose with a mist-spray nozzle. Wash the fender and bumper areas last. Always blast the underside of the car with the hose to remove buildup. Dry the vehicle with a drying cloth instead of letting it air dry (to avoid those ugly water drop stains).
• Once your vehicle has been cleaned, look for chips, scratches, and rust. Repair any abrasions with a touch-up kit.
• Wax your car if you want it to shine.  Paste waxes are easier to use than liquid waxes; liquid waxes cleaned the best; and spray waxes were easiest to use and left the fewest stains on plastic parts, but they didn’t last as long as other waxes.

Maintenance checks
Windshield wipers – Check your wipers; if they leave streaks, miss areas or if they are ripped, it’s time for new ones. Most blades typically last 6 months, but you can extend the life by wiping them with cloth and glass cleaner.
Tires – Check the tread on your tires and make sure they are properly inflated. The penny trick is and easy way to check tread depth!
Under the hood – Clean engine parts carefully with soap and water, being careful around electrical connections. If you find encrustation on the battery, clean it with water and baking soda.
Headlights – At around the five-year mark, many headlights become ineffective due to cloudy or yellow lenses. This can be dangerous and should be addressed. Headlight restoration kits can be found at hardware stores or online for less than $20.
Locks and hinges – Use lubricant on your locks and hinges. Check your owner’s manual, as some recommend graphite lubricant on your locks.

If your busy schedule doesn’t leave you time to get this all done in one go, break it up into small increments. Take it one step at a time to get the job done.

Spring Cleaning & Maintenance

spring car maintenance

Wash winter’s grit & road salt away and enjoy the Spring weather in your clean ride!

Spring cleaning checklist:

Undercarriage flush – With the onset of spring, all car owners should have their car’s undercarriage flushed.

De-grunge – To remove grunge you need to wash your car with a strong detergent; most car wash solutions do not have the strength to cut through the dirt. Try a solution of 1 ounce of dish-washing detergent to 3 gallons of cool water to wash your car.

Clean and Seal – If your car’s paint feels rough, you need a cleaner. If your paint has scuffs and scratches, you need a heavier polish.

Treat – If your car has a leather or vinyl interior, it needs to be treated before the onset of summer’s heat.

Dashboard Shine the dashboard with a clean fabric softener sheet. The anti-static elements will help repel dust from the dashboard.

Chrome & Windows – To clean chrome & glass, sprinkle Baking Soda on a damp rag, scrub, & rinse clean.

Hubcaps – To clean dirt & grime from hubcaps, spray with Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. Let sit for 15 seconds and rinse clean.

 

Car sitting idle for weeks or months? Here’s what you need to know.

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Has your car been sitting for weeks? Maybe even Months? If so, there are some things you need to know to keep your car working properly for when you need it. The main issue that you might run into is a dead battery. That is why it is good practice to drive your car for a few minutes every two to three weeks. The last thing you want to happen is to be in an emergency situation where you need to use your car and it won’t start due to a dead battery.

A dead battery is the main concern but there are other issues that can occur with letting your car sit dormant for too long. You many also run into a problem with your tires. Over time, and especially in the colder months, your tires will slowly lose air pressure and if you don’t refill the tires and continue to let the car sit this can cause permanent flat spots. Driving with flat spots on your tires will cause a bumpy ride and even a bit of noise. By keeping your tires inflated and driving your car every couple of weeks, you will avoid this problem and help retain your tire’s shape.

A less common issue that can happen is rodent infestation in your car. Sometimes rodents will take up residence under the hood or even in the exhaust pipe. The biggest problem that can happen is the rodents may chew through wiring harnesses and other parts made of soy and other organic materials used on modern vehicles.

Make sure to do a routine check on your car every couple of weeks. Drive it for a few miles to make sure everything is working. Keep your tires inflated and gas tank full. If you find yourself with a dead battery, flat tire, or even damage by rodents your local Car-X is here to help. Find your Car-X here.

Help local Minneapolis Franchisee Car-X team return to the East Lake community!

The Bernstein family have enjoyed doing business as a Car-X Franchise in the Lake Street neighborhood since 1980. The first 20 years on West Lake Street and the second 20 years on East Lake Street.

Their team of Pat, John and Billy have been with the Bernstein’s company for a combined total of almost 50 years. The Covid-19 impact and reduction of work has been painful for many including Pat and his team.

The riots, destruction and looting of the East Lake Street store and neighborhood is like salt in an open wound. Please help them REBUILD. They want to get back to servicing their community as soon as possible. These funds will help their technicians get back to work by helping them replace tools and personal items, and keep them working while they clean and rebuild their shop. Thank you for your consideration. Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd!

Thank you from Car-X Tire & Auto on behalf of the Bernstein Family and the East Lake Street Car-X Team